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Why You Should Never Go For A DIY PKI Approach


PKI or Public Key Infrastructure is making a comeback in a bigger way. Once, PKI was considered as a security solution for large or government enterprises, but now the world is witnessing increasing implementation in medium and small-sized businesses as.

But if we consider implementing PKI in the case of small IT staff, it may seem too complex and intimidating. It will not be so fast.

Planning is Essential

Before installing the pieces of a full infrastructure, full planning is always needed. Just the same way, when you need to implement PKI, it also needs a lot of Planning and especially when you are going to do it yourself.


When you are thinking of a DIY PKI approach, you need to know about the components that it has. Just like code signing, PKI is also very crucial and delicate. So, let’s look at the components of PKI.

HSM Or Hardware Security Module

It is basically a physical device that manages and protects all those digital keys for strong authentication along with providing crypto processing. There are several different purposes when you can use hardware security mode or HSM.

Here are some of the common uses.

  • SSL private key protection.
  • Protection of CA certificates.
  • Protection of a CMS’s master key.
  • Code signing key protection.
  • Protection of database encryption keys.

CMS Or Credential Management System

It is the software that lets the IT administrators securely manage their smart cards along with smart USB token deployments. Here are the works that CMS, or credential management system, does.

  • Mobile credential support.
  • Procedures for Emergency recovery.
  • For users, it provides self-service tools.
  • Play the role of a registration authority.
  • Offer permission for creating predefined templates.
  • Remove the burden of manually managing the lifecycle of certificates.
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This is the software, which allows communication between security devices and crypto applications.

  • With tokens and smart cards, it enables communication.
  • Full management of smart cards or tokens.
  • Gemalto provides both the options of advanced middleware deployments and “plug and play.”
  • For estimating the credential lifecycle, it is usually deployed in conjunction with CMS or credential management software in enterprise environments.


It is the actual divide, which enables enhanced security, for example, key storage, secure certificate, digital signatures, file encryption, and authentication. PKI authenticators present several forms of factors. And they include the following.

  • Software (Module/PC).
  • Secure elements Mobile phones.
  • USB tokens.
  • MicroSD.
  • Smart cards can be contact and contactless.

DIY PKI Challenges

For saving money, enterprises often go for DIY PKI. But the effort and time that it demands managing their open PKI can invite huge costs. In addition to this, in case you fail to manage PKI well, it will end up robbing much of its value.

In reality, DIY PKI often has a hard time dealing with all those complex environments with which it is supposed to help. Specifically, the enterprise network is becoming multifaceted and increasingly complex.

When it comes to providing PKI across multi-cloud and hybrid environments, organizations face pressure. It also includes scaling with growth, especially in IoT, along with other devices that are accessing the network.

In order to stay up to date with the industry standards, PKI always needs best practices. This means being compliant and also remaining in line with software and hardware updates. As it is always required careful and proper management, some managers are required to be PKI experts.

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Final Verdict 

In addition to all these things, the tools that enterprises may use come with their own weaknesses. Let’s take the example of Microsoft CA; it still has issues with vulnerabilities, scalability, and usability. Furthermore, with a complex enterprise network, it can be really complex to integrate.

When it comes to handling more than 40,000 certificates, Microsoft CA struggles as well. The number may seem plenty, but a single user may need multiple certificates. So in large enterprises, the number of 40,000 certificates is not at all enough.

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